pancaking ballet shoes to match the dancer's skin-tone

What is Pancaking?

“Pancake,” is a term that refers to the thick base of make-up exclusively used by performers for the stage. Historically, dancers have used pancake to match their shoes or elements of their costume to their skin color. Now, dancers often use a liquid foundation or calamine lotion to achieve a seamless transition from legs to feet. 

The dancer will spread the foundation across the shoe with a soft sponge or fluffy brush and completely saturate it with a color that matches their skin. The idea is to streamline the body and create a cohesive vision of the dancer, without the disruption of pink or black ballet shoes. Although it is referenced most often in relation to shoes, dancers can also pancake costume straps and undergarments to make them blend with the skin. 

Pancaking is extremely important for people of color, because standard pink ballet shoes cannot encapsulate the complexities of dark skin. Pink tights and ballet shoes often disrupt the cohesiveness of dancers’ lines, creating a noticeable chasm between the upper and lower body. Because of a lack of representation in the dance world, brown and black dancers often have to spend countless hours behind the scenes customizing their shoes and costumes to match their hue. 

Driven by her own struggles in the entertainment industry, our founder Erin Carpenter, knows all too well how life changing representation can be. Nude Barre has strived to bridge the gap between what we see on stage and what is available in stores. As dance becomes more diverse, the products available to artists must also evolve with the times. Nude Barre’s commitment to representing all hu(e)mans makes it a leader in both the bodywear and entertainment industries.